Visibility at Jones Beach was an issue Friday, leading organizers...

Visibility at Jones Beach was an issue Friday, leading organizers to cancel rehearsal for the Bethpage Air Show. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Organizers of the Bethpage Air Show are counting on a break in the weather to bring back the first full-capacity air show at Jones Beach in three years.

Despite overnight storms forecast to linger through Saturday morning, organizers at Jones Beach said they were optimistic the show would go on. 

Dense fog and low clouds limited visibility and kept attractions like the Blue Angels from taking to the skies during Friday’s planned practice, which usually serves as a dress rehearsal for the high-flying acrobatic planes.

Organizers said they canceled the flights Friday morning after consulting with the National Weather Service, but the Saturday and Sunday shows, which may attract up to 300,000 people total, were still scheduled to continue as planned.

“The weather did not cooperate today, and we were looking out and the Blue Angels didn’t want to disappoint the crowds. They had a great practice yesterday and they’re all set,” State Parks Regional Director George Gorman said. “Tomorrow [Saturday] is rather iffy, but it does look like we will have the air show.”

The scene at Jones Beach on Friday.

The scene at Jones Beach on Friday. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Gorman said the worst-case scenario Saturday morning is that one or two performances might be canceled if they feel it is unsafe to fly during their time slot.

Severe storms were in the forecast starting Friday evening and could last through Saturday morning at Jones Beach. Saturday’s forecast included a 40% chance of rain, followed by thunderstorms, but it does include a window of partly cloudy skies from late morning into the afternoon, with highs reaching the low 70s, when the air show performers are set to take flight.

A smaller crowd, predicted to be about 100,000 people, was expected Saturday, before Sunday’s show in what looks like better weather: The forecast then is for warm, clear and sunny conditions. Parks officials encouraged crowds to spread out attendance over both days so as not to overwhelm the beach on Sunday.

Organizers said they would review the forecast again Saturday morning while meeting with pilots to discuss any cancellations.

“Rain is one factor but winds and visuals and cloud cover are also taken into consideration,” Gorman said. “Some performers can perform in low visibility; others need five to six miles and we ask if it's safe to perform. We do not want to jeopardize the safety of anyone whatsoever.”

Parks officials are hoping to ring in the summer with the 19-year tradition of the air show, which as been hampered by rain and COVID-19 restrictions the past two years. The 2020 show was canceled, and after last year’s Saturday show was rained out, organizers took the unprecedented step of hosting performers from around the country on the following Monday. 

The show kicks off Long island’s tourism season, which the organization Discover Long Island estimates draws $6.3 billion annually across the Island through the summer. 

This is also the first year the Blue Angels have returned to Jones Beach since 2018. They will be joined by the F22 Raptor and F35C demonstration teams, the Geico skytypers and the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team. 

State Police and the U.S. Coast Guard are providing security for the event, including more than 100 state troopers and park rangers. Police said they are working with U.S. Homeland Security to monitor large crowds and that they will use cameras, K-9 units, drones and bomb teams.

“Rest assured, this will be a very safe event,” State Police Maj. George Mohl said.

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